Advertisement

Take the money or else!

April 28, 2000

That seems to be the message from Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Maryland's State Superintendent of Schools, who said in a Wednesday letter she may stop Allegany County from closing two schools unless the local school board explains why it turned down $1 million in emergency aid. Absent some evidence that Allegany County's action threatens students' ability to get an education, Grasmick's action sounds too drastic to us.

The $1 million was offered by Gov. Parris Glendening's administration after some special lobbying by House Speaker Cas Taylor, an Allegany County Democrat who hoped the board would use it to keep two schools open.

The board initially accepted the offer, then rejected it Monday on a 3-2 vote after learning that there were some conditions attached. To get the cash, they would have had to agree to a state performance audit of all Allegany County schools and devise a deficit-reduction plan for the 2001-2002 school year.

Advertisement

Instead of accepting those conditions, the board voted to close a K-12 school in Oldtown and an elementary school in Barton, saving about $1.8 million. Some board members decried what they see as state interference, while other speculated that Grasmick probably had no choice, since she and the Allegany board are being sued by some Oldtown parents who don't feel their children are getting an adequate education.

The facts don't favor keeping the schools open. The Baltimore Sun reports that even though Allegany County schools' enrollment has dropped by more than 15,000 students since 1972, no schools have been closed. Taylor doesn't dispute the need for action, but feels it should be delayed a year to give the system more time to plan a future with a much smaller number of students.

Which brings us right back where we started, to the question of whether children are truly harmed by the decision. If there's no evidence to suggest closing those schools will hurt students, the superintendent ought to accept the local board's decision to reject the bailout.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|